The next advancement in credit security: selfies

Get your smartphones ready, because selfies may replace signatures when buying something with a credit card.

Mastercard recently announced that it has begun testing a smartphone app that verifies online purchases using facial recognition. 

"The new generation, which is into selfies, I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," Ajay Bhalla, a security expert at Mastercard, said in a statement.

The app is expected to roll out to about 500 testers later this year. When making an online purchase with their Mastercard, the new software will prompt customers during checkout to take a picture of their face using features built into the app. The app will be able to differentiate between the actual user versus a picture of that person by looking to see if the customer blinks.

The goal of the project is to eliminate information that can be easily stolen, like PINs, or forged, like signatures. Jennifer Stalzer, Mastercard vice president of corporate communications, told CBS News that prevalence of the smartphone in our society will bring these types of integration to the mainstream.

"Today's consumers are connected. Our mobile phones are our best friend. As the digital and physical worlds continue to converge, we see biometric-based payment security becoming commonplace," she said.

BBC News, in talking to a security researcher on the announcement, pointed out that a similar technology used to be incorporated into Google's Android smartphone operating system for users to un lock their device, but the feature was removed in later software revisions as it was easy to fool. 

Though Google wasn't able to work out the technology when it was deployed a few years ago, technology advancements since then could make facial recognition more secure and, if combined with a PIN, could go a long way towards prevent credit card data breaches, according to the security researcher.

Mastercard also revealed in the announcement that they were working on similar systems using fingerprint scanners and voice recognition. 

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